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Do you have First Amendment rights in the workplace?

Can you be fired for what you say in a workplace? If you are let go for expressing your opinion about something like politics or religion, have you been wrongfully terminated?

The short answer is: there is no short answer. Employment law can be complex, especially where it overlaps with constitutional laws and rights. Each situation has to be examined independently to determine if a case of wrongful termination is likely, which is one reason to seek assistance from a legal professional if you believe you have been let go without reason.

That being said, there are some times when your First Amendment rights don't apply in a private workplace. When you work for someone else, they have a brand. That brand is protected by ensuring everyone who works for or on behalf of the brand communicates in a certain way and handles customers and interactions in a certain way.

That is not to say you don't have the right to say and do certain things on your own time or your own social media pages. Whether or not such activity can inhibit your job might come down to a contract you signed with your employer.

In the workplace, however, most employees are expected to follow procedure regarding such things. That means you might not be free to express your political opinions in the workplace, and you are certainly not free to engage in speech that bullies or harasses another worker.

If you are let go because of something you said -- or didn't say -- in the workplace, then it might be time to consult with a lawyer. An experienced employment law professional can help you understand what the law actually is and whether your employer crossed it.

Source: Fortune, "Wrongful termination: What it is -- and isn't," Anne Fisher, accessed Feb. 12, 2016

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